There ‘was a leak’ inside the LG Polymers plant, ACP West Visakhapatnam Swaroop Rani told The Quint on Thursday, 7 May.
At least 11 people, including two children, have died after a chemical gas leakage at the plant in Visakhapatnam's RR Venkatapuram village in Andhra Pradesh at around 3 am on Thursday, confirmed SN Pradhan, Director General of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF).
"“Around 5,000 tonnes of polymer were kept in two tanks and was in the storage system. There was an automatic chain reaction because it is polymer. Due to that heat, vapours came out.”" - Swaroop Rani, ACP West Visakhapatnam to The Quint
When asked if it was because it was left unattended as the factory was shut down for the past few days, she said no.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Jaganmohan Reddy has announced one crore as relief to kin of the deceased and has offered cash assistance to those affected.
The situation has been largely controlled and all the villages in the vicinity have been evacuated, confirmed Srijana, Visakhapatnam Municipal Commissioner.
The National Human Rights Commission issued a notice to the Centre and Andhra Pradesh government over deaths and the impact of the leak on people’s health.
Villages in Vicinity Evacuated
Door-to-door checking was done and houses that were found shut were broken into and people who were found unconscious were rescued. At least 1,000 people living in the three-kilometre radius around the factory have fallen sick.
Over 250 people are hospitalised, with 180 in King George Hospital and 50 admitted in Apollo Hospital.
Most of them are on oxygen supply, the municipal commissioner assured.
"“All the people who have been evacuated are in shelter homes and food and water are being provided. We will wait for 7-8 hours for the gas to subside and then sprinkle water in the air to break the compound.”" - Srijana, Visakhapatnam Municipal Commissioner to The Quint
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has spoken to officials of the Ministry of Home Affairs and NDMA (National Disaster Management Authority) regarding the situation. He also spoke to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy and assured all help and support, the PMO said.
People were taken to the hospital after they complained of feeling dizzy, a burning sensation in the eyes, and breathing difficulties. Policemen posted in the area have also been affected.
Andhra Pradesh CM YS Jagan Mohan Reddy has met those hospitalised in King George Hospital in Vizag. He has directed officials to take every possible step to save lives and bring the situation under control, his office said.
“The incident in Visakhapatnam is disturbing. Have spoken to the NDMA officials and concerned authorities. We are continuously and closely monitoring the situation. I pray for the well-being of the people of Visakhapatnam,” said Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
RK Meena, CP Visakhapatnam City said the gas has been neutralised and the maximum impact was in a 1-1.5 km radius, ANI has reported. An FIR has been registered.
“There was styrene gas leak. We have evacuated the village. Now we are conducting door-to-door search,” he told.
The LG Polymer plant was preparing to open after 40 days of lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Minister of Home Affairs G Kishan Reddy offered condolences to the families of the deceased and has spoken to the Chief Secretary and DGP of Andhra Pradesh and extended help from the Centre.
He urged the government to use private hospitals for treatment as government hospitals are full due to COVID-19 patients.
The police, district collector, teams of NDRF and the SDRF are reportedly on the spot to rescue the affected people.
Three villages have been evacuated.
The circle inspector of Gopalapatnam even said that 50 people were found on the roads in an unconscious state, reported The Times of India.
People have been advised to wear wet masks.
. Read more on India by The Quint.RSS & BJP’s Nehru-Netaji ‘Cosplay’: Irony Dies a Thousand DeathsCOVID-19: Over 52,900 Cases in India; Death Toll Stands at 1,783 . Read more on India by The Quint.